Anthony Harmon is an extremely intelligent designer with an assortment of diverse interests ranging from philosophy to science to the paranormal. These interests always spill over into Anthony's art. In this interview Anthony gives us some good advice on designing and explains the origins to a couple of his designs.
1. Welcome to Psdtuts+! Please introduce yourself, give us a brief bio, tell us where you're from, and how you got started in the field.
It's an honor to be speaking with you and the Psdtuts+ community; thank you for the opportunity! I'll do my best to sound like a rock star, but I'm not sure it’s a battle I can win. I was born and raised in Jackson Hole, a small Wyoming town of about 12,000. I enjoy telling people I rode a horse to school my kindergarten year. They think I'm exaggerating, but it’s true! I wore wrangler jeans, cowboy boots, leather chaps, the works. The beginning of the end of my cowboy days came on Christmas of sixth grade.
Two gifts would forever change my life; my first snowboard and computer. I quickly traded in my spurs and lasso for punk bands, bleached hair and obscure acronyms like AFK and ROFL. There was little hope. Some of the readers may remember a client-to-server protocol named Hotline popular in the mid to late 90's. I was a member of a small design collective named Badmoon Laboratories that distributed a popular bimonthly user icon list. That was my first taste of the design world.
2. You have about four years of formal graphic design training, what are a couple of the most important lessons you learned while studying in school. And how do you apply them to your work now?
Well, to give credit where credit is due, I attribute almost everything I know about art and design to DigiPen Institute of Technology. That place is insane man. They work their students to the bone. It was a regular occurrence to not sleep from Sunday morning until Monday around midnight in order to complete assignments. In two years I filled ten two-hundred page sketchbooks cover to cover.
No joke, I have a permanent calcified bump on my right ring finger from drawing so much. Above all I was awakened to how hard some people work for their goals. I feel fortunate to have run that gauntlet and lived to tell about it because they instilled an ironclad work ethic and stressed the importance of networking, communication and professionalism. These can play more in your favor than any drafting or technical skill set in my opinion.
3. "Project Zodiac" is a one of a kind piece of work with a theme that I haven't ever seen before. What interests me the most is where you came up with this idea and then how you ran with it, give us a look into the process of creating the designs.
Well Project Zodiac is an on going series initially inspired by depthCORE's NOIR release. I wanted to further elaborate on the monochromatic theme by incorporating subjects from material I have been reading about recently, specifically: consciousness, physics and astronomy. As far as process - with most of my personal art I enjoy the freedom from client demands. I try to let the piece evolve on its own, rather than sketching preliminary comps, roughs or pre-planning a composition. That's one of the luxuries we digital artists have. Thank God for the history hierarchy, layer palette and Cntrl Z!
4. Our readers like to understand the process in which an artist designs their work, so please give us a little rundown of your workflow from start to finish. Any specific techniques that you like to use?
Analogous to a hip hop producer digging in the crates for that gem record to sample, us photo manipulators start by browsing endless pages of stock photos for that perfect image. You're only as good as your stock photography. The second step is without a doubt the most tedious - prepping your images. This includes extracting desired elements from the rest of an image and adjusting things like hue, contrast, shadows, etc. to give an overall cohesive gestalt.
I'm sure many of your viewers are aware, but for those who aren't, Shinybinary has some fantastic tutorials on techniques regarding the aforementioned. I particularly enjoyed his channel extraction technique mentioned here.
Once my major compositional elements are in place, I enjoy going in for some detail in areas I want to direct the viewer’s eye. A good splatter or grunge brush usually does the trick. Lastly I flatten the image and apply some final color and lighting adjustments to help unify the piece.
5. From viewing your portfolio, I see you have an eclectic group of interests like ancient civilizations and scientific theory. Would you say your work is heavily influenced by your interests? If so, give us an example where one of your interests got translated into a design.
I have an unhealthy obsession with sub cultural phenomena. Be it UFO's, alternative energy research, quantum physics, lucid dreaming, ancient civilizations...I'm there. I would say it has a huge impact on my personal work. If readers visit my Behance Portfolio and keep in mind words like consciousness, meditation, chakra, aura, pyramids, shamanism; they'll see the connection.
6. "Land of the Free" might not be your most intricate and flashy design but it makes a strong statement. Do you think designers should sometimes make pieces that actually make a statement rather than something visually stimulating?
Hopefully an artist can achieve both. A powerful statement with bad design is still bad design and won't captivate viewers for long. With Land of the Free I wanted to be as blunt and forward as possible. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, just an abrasive vantage point on American society.
Inspiration for the piece came from George Carlin. "Americans are huge piles of redundant semi conscious protoplasm." I love that quote, it makes me laugh every time. Of course it's over exaggerated, but sometimes a little embellishment helps to drive home a point.
7. From a designer’s standpoint, where do you see yourself in about 5 to 10 years? What goals do you hope to accomplish by then?
Good question! All of my Zen reading instructs me not to stress or focus on the future, but its difficult not to. Right now I consider myself a hard working up and coming rookie. I feel like I'm just beginning to hone my skill set and I'm confidently looking forward to seeing just how far I can push myself. Eventually, I see myself owning a small office space or retail outlet with a modest staff. Quality over quantity. My main priority right now is to stay healthy, happy and hungry for knowledge.
8. Thanks again for providing Psdtuts+ with this opportunity to interview you. Any final thoughts? What would you tell other designers that hope to be as good as you one day?
All I have to say is devote time to finding out who you really are. What are you passionate about? What kind of life and lifestyle do you want to lead? So many people don't take the time to ask those fundamental questions and find themselves unsatisfied, burnt out, unhappy 40 year olds wondering where the hell their life went.
Everyone has to work for a living, but work doesn't have to be miserable. If your heart is behind anything you do, you will be successful. Take the time to find out what that is. Thanks a million Emil, I enjoyed myself. I hope the readers did as well. Take care.
Where to find Anthony on the Web
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